WARNING: THIS IS A NO-EDIT ZONE…
An oddity occurred in my world–for over a week I was unable to access the Net. Strange things occurred, and while I could correct them (God bless Mac!), I was afraid to restore for fear of messing up my backup copies because I didn’t understand what exactly occurred. (Can you tell I’ve been here before?)
I wouldn’t have been so wary if this challenge hadn’t impacted my desktop and laptop, but it did–and while I had multiple backup copies of my disks, I’ve been in a position during my PC days where multiple copies failed. I lost a book. I lost proposals. I lost photos. I lost graphics. I lost everything because disks were corrupt, tape backups failed and an offsite copy failed, too. It was a mess.
I lost ten years of mailing addresses from fans, booksellers, libraries and a great deal of information that was not recoverable. That was due to virus, malware, trojans and it happened even though I had multiple–multiple–protections and firewalls in place.
Three years ago, I switched to Macs and my life has been much more sane. I haven’t had these type problems, and so when both computers went down at once, I was petrified that history was repeating itself.
As luck would have it, this happened at a time when I wasn’t in a position to get it to my fabulous gurus. I was concerned I’d lose a week of productivity. I didn’t. Galleys came in for review. A workshop came up that needed preparing. Other things happened that required offline work, and so I had to shift gears but continued to be productive.
Not without a few challenges. Not without observations. A few were interesting:
1. I missed–really missed–the conversations on craft and writing and business with the group I mentor. (They make me think and stay on my toes.)
2. I missed–really missed–the conversations on all things of interest–which is just about all things–with my friends on Facebook and Twitter.
3. I missed–really missed–the news beyond the news you hear on TV. My favorite site articles and opinion pages, the blogs I enjoy reading.
4. I missed–really missed–my morning devotionals. The days were sad without them and I missed those uplifting thoughts and inspiring messages that have set the tone for my days. I hadn’t realized how important those were to me, how much of an impact they had shaping the tone with which I approached my day. I won’t forget that or fail to realize it again. Definitely on my daily blessings list.
5.I felt disconnected. By necessity, writers spend a lot of time alone with their thoughts. That’s difficult for a people person. I’ve always been a people person. I genuinely love them, love to hear what they think, to share their triumphs and support during defeats, do what I can to lift them up during challenges.
6.I had a lot of “found” time to work on projects I’ve wanted to do but couldn’t fit into the schedule. Mmmm…
7.I couldn’t post to my blogs, and that left me feeling adrift too. I didn’t realize how much blogging aids in focus. Do now.
Other things I noted all fit into one of the above, so I won’t keep listing, but I did jot down nearly a full page of observations. I thought that in itself was interesting. It really drove home the point on how much our worlds are enlarged by our online activities and interactions.
The value of your online experiences is incumbent on how you spend your time online, of course. I try to be judicious with mine because my time is precious to me. But above all the mechanical things–the value of backups (I actually lost nothing in this ordeal)–are the intangible things. Expressing my thoughts, hearing the thoughts of others, feeling connected and sharing.
For a people person those things hold enormous value. But realizing the priorities of the everyday, routine things is important, and so this has been a good thing.
It’s also an affirmation that it is beneficial to be flexible. It was a really productive time. Not in the way I expected it to be productive, but productive on other things that are also important.
I wouldn’t wish online challenges on anyone. But I can recommend unplugging for a few days and noting your observations. There are treasures to be discovered.
Now to the practical.
1. Invest in an external hard drive and back up your entire computer onto the hard drive frequently. If I had lost everything, I had a total backup of everything to restore that was 3 days old. Three days lost is a whole lot better than everything–and having to recreate everything, reinstall applications, start over with new calendars, address books, and all the million things you forget are there until they’re not.
2. Consider an off-site backup. Places like Carbonite (there are many others) where you pay $55 a year, set it up and back up once, then it does so in the background and you don’t have to think about it. It just backs up for you.
3. I also have a passport type device, where I copy all documents I do not want to lose.
4. When you write, at the end of your writing session, email yourself a copy of the work. I set up a separate email account and this is all that goes it–my day’s writing.
If you’re on a Mac, use the Time Machine. With a click of a button, you’ve got a backup of your whole computer. Save that to the external hard drive, to idisk or another off site service like the Carbonite one I mentioned. Snag that USB passport and back up. Email yourself important things you really, really don’t want to lose.
Yes, it’s anal. Yes, it takes a little time. “But lemme tell ya, it takes a whole lot less time than it takes to recreate when multiple backups fail simultaneously,” says she who lost an entire book.
Consider it an investment in your peace of mind.
Yet another observation of value.